Development is a far cry for two neglected Kharghar villages
NAVI MUMBAI: Twelve- year- old Vishal Pardi, a Class 6 student from Fanaswadi village in the Kharghar hills, walks almost 10km every day to reach his school at Kopra.
After studying up to Class 5 in the primary school of his village, he, along with many other children from the neighbourhood, took admission in the high school.
As his parents could not afford the bills of a private van, he walks 20km every day to his school. Unable to withstand this ordeal, many children of the village have left their education halfway.
Located seven kilometres deep inside the Kharghar hills, Fanaswadi and Charpewadi villages have seen little changes since Independence. Despite being close to a developed node like Kharghar, these villages still do not have public transport facilities. The villagers have to walk almost one hour either to reach Kharghar town or the LP junction at Nerul on the other side.
The only primary school, which is r un by t he Zilla Parishad, was opened in 2006. However, it has just two teachers to take care of nearly 30 students studying from Class 1 to 5. The school has just two classrooms with desks and benches in one of them.
“We realise that something called governance and democracy exists only before the elections. People come here asking
for votes with lots of promises. But we don’t see their faces until the next election,” said Gulap Chaugade, 25, a resident of Fanaswadi village.
Surrounded by rocky hills and forests, these two villages are home to around 50- odd families with a population of nearly 300.
Many of the villagers do various odd jobs to earn their livelihood. Men are employed as contract workers in government agencies while women collect fire- woods and catch
fish in the ponds and rivulets and sell them in the city.
Until two years ago these villages had no electricity. After several requests received from the villagers, gram panchayat officials finally installed concrete poles and connected them with overhead wires in 2013. Though electricity lit up their huts, lack of road connectivity deprived them of education.
There is not street light anywhere in those villages till date.
“Because of dense forests and snakes, people get scared to walk on the roads after the sunset. If we are bound to travel for some urgent work at night, we prefer walking in groups to avert any untoward incident,” Chaugade said.
Other facilities like health centers, banks and markets are also distant realities for these villagers.
“At times we feel as if we were staying an island, completely cut off from the rest of the world. We cannot move to some other places because
of our financial issues,” said Pappu Pardi, 22, another resident.
Earlier t ourists used to visit the hills every year during monsoon. However, after some people died in a landslide, the City and Industrial Development Cor poration ( Cidco) stopped entry to these areas a few years ago.
Like many other i ssues, water crisis is also not new to them. The tanks of the villages are filled with borewell water every morning, and the residents come to collect water.
“We cannot get borewell water as there’s no electricity for two to three days and thus the tanks run dry. So, we have to depend on two very old
wells located behind our villages. Water taken from these wells is not potable due to lack of maintenance. However, we have no option but to survive with that,” said Manish Kode, 31, another villager.
“E ve n wh e n our tanks remain f ull with borewell water, we are allowed to use it only for drinking purpose; so, we have no option but to fetch water f rom the dirty wells throughout the year for cleaning and washing purposes. Therefore, the maintenance of these wells has become the need of hour,” he added.
Ironically, these two villages give a clear view of the entire Kharghar node which is being transformed into an education and economic hub spending crores of rupees.
Somnath Mhatre, deputy sarpanch of Kharghar gram panchayat, said, “We are developing a health centre in a nearby village and the residents of the said two villages can take advantage of it. We already have one ambulance for the health centre. Under Gharkul Yojna, we have given Rs5 lakh to each f amily to construct their houses. A month ago, we provided LPG connections to all of them.”
He added that the roads in the hills are under the City and Industrial Development Corporation ( Cidco) and so they cannot install street lights there.
“We have, however, written to them to take the requisite measures at the earliest. We had earlier provided vehicles for students to go to school, but the service was cancelled due to some issues. We will see if we can resume it,” he said.
Even when our tanks remain full with borewell water, we are allowed to use it only for drinking purpose; so, we have no option but to fetch water from the dirty wells throughout the year for non-potable use. MANISH KODE, a resident of Fanaswadi village
The residents of Fanaswadi and Charpewadi villages have been facing water problem for years.
Kharghar is 10kms away from the villages but there is no public transport. Children trudge to school every day.